Thank you so much for your financial help with my solo exhibition PRESENCE at Elmhurst Art Museum. With your help we were able to create an experience that EAM’s director called "our blockbuster show" because it broke their attendance records.
It was such a hit that the museum has asked me to come back this September 7 and do a completely new solo exhibition with works filling their galleries again, including the McCormick House.
As a thank you for your contribution to helping make my debut solo exhibition possible here is a curated media list that includes interviews/lectures/podcasts, favorite artists, books, film, and music, that has inspired and informed my life and development as an artist over the last 20 years. Enjoy! Please click on the arrow to the right to begin! >>>
On Being is an NPR interview series led by Krista Tippett, that has been a huge source of inspiration in my life and work. I highly recommend it.
Click on the above link and you will find all the episodes as well as the On Being blog.
I have gone through every episode Krista Tippett has ever done and listed my favorites for you below. Enjoy them at your leisure. I include some of my own thoughts and excerpts before a few of the titles. Scroll down to see them all.
Lastly, scroll to the very bottom to find a couple Radiolab episodes and video lectures I've loved as well.
When you are done browsing don't forget to click the arrow to the right and continue to the next page for my favorite artists >>>
This first On Being I'll list is Krista Tippett's favorite interview-and I think the last interview John did before he died. I've listened to the first 30 min of this many times.
The Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue was beloved for his book Anam Ċara, Gaelic for "soul friend," and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling. In one of his last interviews before his death in 2008, he articulated a Celtic imagination about how the material and the spiritual — the visible and the invisible — intertwine in human experience. His voice and writings continue to bring ancient mystical wisdom to modern confusions and longings.
Here is Krista's interview with John's best friend- another of my all time faves and articulates much of what my work is about-
David Whyte—The Conversational Nature of Reality
“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet / confinement of your aloneness / to learn / anything or anyone / that does not bring you alive / is too small for you.”
David Whyte is a poet and philosopher who believes in the power of a “beautiful question” amidst the drama of work as well as the drama of life — amidst the ways the two overlap, whether we want them to or not. He shared a deep friendship with the late Irish philosopher John O’Donohue. They were, David Whyte says, like “two bookends.” More recently, he’s written about the consolation, nourishment, and underlying meaning of everyday words.
Brené Brown—The Courage to Be Vulnerable
Courage is borne out of vulnerability, not strength. This finding of Brené Brown’s research on shame and "wholeheartedness" shook the perfectionist ground beneath her own feet. And now it’s inspiring millions to reconsider the way they live, parent, and navigate relations with members of the opposite gender.
This Franciscan is maybe the only contemporary "christian" I give two cents about listening to. Below is a quote from the talk...
"To be a contemplative is to learn to trust deep time and to learn how to rest there and not be wrapped up in chronological time. Because what you’ve learned, especially by my age, is that all of it passes away. The things that you’re so impassioned about when you’re 22 or 42 don’t even mean anything anymore, and yet, you got so angry about it or so invested in it. So, this word “contemplation,” it’s a different form of consciousness. It’s a different form of time."
This guy's been all over the world from an early age and has an incredible perspective on life -
Pico Iyer—The Art of Stillness
Pico Iyer is one of our most eloquent explorers of what he calls the "inner world" — in himself and in the 21st century world at large. The journalist and novelist travels the globe from Ethiopia to North Korea and lives in Japan. But he also experiences a remote Benedictine hermitage as his second home, retreating there many times each year. In this intimate conversation, we explore the discoveries he's making and his practice of "the art of stillness.”
Maybe my favorite poet- such a insightful, tender, and beautiful interview with this old soul.
Mary Oliver—Listening to the World
Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. She’s just released a new volume, Felicity, at the age of 80. And so we’re revisiting the interview she granted us earlier this year on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing.
This woman is amazing. And doing such meaningful and timely work that beautifully blends art and science. Her vision of reality resonates with me deeply.
A passionate translator of the beauty and relevance of scientific questions, Margaret Wertheim is also wise about the limits of science to tell the whole story of the human self. Her Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles reveals evocative, visceral connections between high mathematics, crochet and other folk arts, and our love for the planet.
Speaking of science, this is probably my favorite physicist, who echos David Whyte's ideas about the conversational nature of reality.
Carlo Rovelli offers vast, complex ideas beyond most of our imagining — “quanta,” “grains of space,” “time and the heat of black holes” — and condenses them into spare, beautiful words that render them newly explicable and moving. He is the scientist behind the global bestseller Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, and for him, all of reality is interaction — an everyday truth as scientific as it is philosophical and political. This physicist’s way of seeing the world helps make sense of what he calls “the huge wave of happenings” that is the human self.
Bessel van der Kolk is brilliant man who is articulating and proving scientifically the importance of our body and how connected our interior and exterior worlds are- a central theme in my work.
Bessel van der Kolk— How Trauma Lodges in the Body
Human memory is a sensory experience, says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he’s learning about how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. What he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events — which, after all, make up the drama of culture, of news, and of life.
Brilliant historian and Lutheran who late in life converted to Orthodoxy- really nice interview on pluralisms need for creeds with another old soul.
Jaroslav Pelikan—The Need for Creeds
The idea of reciting an unchanging creed sounds suspicious to modern ears. But the late, great historian Jaroslav Pelikan illuminated ancient tradition in order to enliven faith in the present and the future. He insisted that strong statements of belief will be necessary if pluralism in the 21st century is to thrive. We take in his moving, provocative perspective on our enduring need for creeds.
This Zen master had a huge impact on me in the early 90's. -
Thich Nhat Hanh, Cheri Maples, and Larry Ward—Being Peace in a World of Trauma
The Vietnamese Zen master, whom Martin Luther King nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, is a voice of power and wisdom in this time of tumult in the world. We visited Thich Nhat Hanh at a retreat attended by police officers and other members of the criminal justice system; they offer stark gentle wisdom for finding buoyancy and “being peace” in a world of conflict, anger, and violence.
I think you'd like Maria's blog if you don't know about it already-one of the only ones I follow-
Maria Popova—Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age
She has called her blog, Brain Pickings, her invention and labor of love, a “human-powered discovery engine for interestingness.” What Maria Popova really delivers, to hundreds of thousands of people each day, is wisdom of the old-fashioned sort, presented in new-fashioned digital ways. She cross-pollinates — between philosophy and design, physics and poetry, the intellectual and the experiential. We explore her gleanings on what it means to lead a good life — intellectually, creatively, and spiritually.
You probably know who this Quaker wise man is- he's such a prophetic voice in my opinion.
Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin—The Inner Life of Rebellion
The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin and Quaker wise man Parker Palmer come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change.
Langer is the mother of mindfulness and has amazing insights on the life changing power of paying attention.
And here's her On Being episode:
Ellen Langer—Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness
Ellen Langer is a social psychologist who some have dubbed “the mother of mindfulness.” But she defines mindfulness with counterintuitive simplicity: the simple act of actively noticing things — with a result of increased health, competence, and happiness. Her take on mindfulness has never involved contemplation or meditation or yoga. It comes straight out of her provocative, unconventional studies, which have been suggesting for decades what neuroscience is pointing at now: our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery — but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are in control. Ellen Langer has shown it’s possible to become physiologically younger through a changed frame of mind; to find joy in what was experienced as drudgery by renaming it as play; and to induce weight loss by substituting the label “exercise” for labor.
Another artist whose work is all about embodied knowledge which is the same language I use about my work-
Ann Hamilton—Making, and the Spaces We Share
The philosopher Simone Weil defined prayer as “absolutely unmixed attention.” The artist Ann Hamilton embodies this notion in her sweeping works of art that bring all the senses together. She uses her hands to create installations that are both visually astounding and surprisingly intimate, and meet a longing many of us share, as she puts it, to be alone together.
This is where Henri Nouwen lived and took care of people with disabilities in France. Something dear to my heart, after living with and taking care of a man with disabilities myself for 22 years:
Jean Vanier—The Wisdom of Tenderness
The philosopher and Catholic social innovator Jean Vanier is a teacher of the wisdom of tenderness. The L’Arche movement, which he founded, centers around people with mental disabilities and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. We experience how Jean Vanier brings the most paradoxical religious teachings to life: that there’s power in humility, strength in weakness, and light in the darkness of human existence.
Martin Sheen—Spirituality of Imagination
Actor Martin Sheen as you've never heard him before. He has appeared in over 100 films, including Apocalypse Now. He’s best known on television as President Bartlet in seven seasons of The West Wing. But Martin Sheen, born and still legally named Ramón Estévez, has had another lesser-known life as a spiritual seeker and activist. He returned to a deep and joyful Catholic faith after a crisis at the height of his fame in in mid-life. He’s been arrested over 60 times in vigils and protests. "Piety is something you do alone," he says. "True freedom, spirituality, can only be achieved in community."
Brian Greene—Reimagining the Cosmos
A thrilling, mind-bending view of the cosmos and of the human adventure of modern science. In a conversation ranging from free will to the meaning of the Higgs boson particle, physicist Brian Greene suggests the deepest scientific realities are hidden from human senses and often defy our best intuition.
Freeman Dyson and Paul Davies—Einstein's God
Part two of this series delves into Einstein's Jewish identity, his passionate engagement around issues of war and race, and modern extensions of his ethical and scientific perspectives.
Recently been enjoying this book "A Beautiful Question" and then I happily stumbled on his On Being interview -
Nobel physicist Frank Wilczek sees beauty as a compass for truth, discovery, and meaning. His book, A Beautiful Question, is a long meditation on the question: “Does the world embody beautiful ideas?” He’s the unusual scientist willing to analogize his discoveries about the deep structure of reality with deep meaning in the human everyday.
The Private Faith of Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter -- former president and Nobel Laureate, author and global humanitarian -- speaks of his born-again faith with a directness that is striking even in today's political culture. He reflects on being commander in chief while following, as he says, "the Prince of Peace"; on upholding the law while privately opposing abortion; and on his marriage of 60 years as a metaphor for the challenge of human relationship both personal and global.
If you are curious about Krista Tippett herself- she recently wrote a best selling book and was interviewed on her own show here by Pico Iyer.
Krista Tippett–The Mystery and Art of Living
This episode, a “theft of the dial.” Writer and traveler Pico Iyer turns the tables on our host Krista Tippett by asking her the questions. Her latest book, Becoming Wise, chronicles what she’s learned through her conversations with the most extraordinary voices across time and generations, across disciplines and denominations. An illuminating conversation on the mystery and art of living.
One of my all-time favorite artists is Robert Irwin, one of the fathers of the Light and Space art movement that came out of Southern California in the 1960's.
His biography is fantastic, and is considered perhaps the greatest bio ever written about an artist:
And another great lecture of Irwin I love
Great NY Times Article on Irwin
Books, Film, and Music
Mindfullness and Spirituality:
The Contemporary Voyage - a great philosophy primer
Gilead - The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning novel
Planet Earth - Anytime I feel stressed and I watch one of these I just feel my stress slide away. The power of nature to heal and restore is available even through film!
Planet Earth II - More amazingness from the BBC and David Attenborough.
Stress: A Portrait of a Killer - An amazing documentary about how stress literally breaks down our DNA and kills us but through accessing authentic fellowship our body will release a chemical to heal us. Crazy!
Koyaanisqatsi - An amazing film juxtaposing the reality of modernity with an amazing minimalist score by Philip Glass. It truly shows the meaning of the Hopi word Koyaanisqatsi "life out of balance".
Into Great Silence - A film that transcends film to become a true monastic journey in and of itself. Don't watch this if you are tired. You have to watch this in a place that is not distracting, and preferable with a nice surround sound system on a projector. The next best set up would be with headphones in the dark on a TV. It's necessary if you want to be taken on the journey. Also, it's ok to take a few stabs at getting through this. Most people fall asleep. But it's worth it!
2001: A Space Odyssey - One of the greatest films ever made, way way way ahead of it's time. I saw this when I was 9 and it blew my mind. I saw it again recently and it still is blowing my mind.
Tree of Life - Don't watch this like a movie, read it like a poem, it's visual poetry. Also one of the greatest films ever made.
The Wind will Carry Us - Great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's poetic masterpiece. His films are often made with non-actors and involve a lot of watching and listening. Kiarostami was a poet himself and it shows in is films.
Taste of Cherry - Another poetic masterpiece by Kiarostami
Five - A meditative visual poem by Kiarostami
Groundhog Day - I watch this every February 2nd. A masterpiece on the virtue of acceptance.
Mainstream Film that has influenced my work:
Babette's Feast - Beautiful film which my wife and I credit for being the tipping point that helped us take the leap into marriage. A powerful film about infinite Grace.
The Thin Red Line - Perhaps the greatest war movie ever made.
Hard Days Night - A classic, capturing the zeitgeist of the 60's and the phenomena of the greatest pop rock band of all time. I saw this when I was 9 and it blew my mind.
There Will Be Blood - These next three are directed by the modern master filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. This one is my favorite of his and my favorite morality tale. The descent into darkness that follows a man who keeps shutting himself off from vulnerability and humility. Daniel Day-Lewis' finest performance.
Phantom Thread - In my eyes, the sequel to There Will Be Blood, another morality tale about vulnerability and marriage, told like a gothic fairy tale, showing a man similar to the character in TWBB but who finally give in and allows himself to enter into real relationship. Daniel Day-Lewis' final performance.
Magnolia - Paul Thomas Anderson's epic ensemble piece that weaves every character together into a phenomenal climax that leaves you jaw dropped. Full of beauty and pain, fragility and pride.
Her - Spike Jonze's masterpiece on a man who falls in love with his operating system's Artificial Intelligence, a film that is more prophetic, and coming soon, then we all care to believe.
The Straight Story - David Lynch's masterpiece on aging and dying. Slow and beautiful. Farnsworth won an Oscar for his performance of dying man going to see his brother a state away by riding his lawn mower to see him.
The Shawshank Redemption - Flawless film showing the power of acceptance and how freedom resides within.
Arrival - Another amazing film on the power of acceptance.
Silence - Scorcese's beautiful film on transcending ego to find acceptance and freedom.
Last Days in the Desert - A brilliant film, shot by the same DP as Tree of Life, all in natural light, in the desert. An apocryphal tale of Jesus on his way back to Jerusalem after his 40 days in the desert. Ewan McGregor as both Satan and Jesus, a beautiful and subtle performance.
Grand Budapest Hotel - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - The Fantastic Mr. Fox - Three examples of Wes Anderson's brilliant aesthetic style. The way he frames every shot with such powerful symmetry and then breaks that symmetry has been influential in my work. Something I got from Kubrick as well.
Interstellar - Christopher Nolan's incredible visual journey through time and space with a beautiful organ score by Zimmer. Turn it up. If you don't have a great stereo, use headphones.
Inception - Another Nolan masterpiece that plays with time. As you know some of my work tries to help us experience time differently. I think Inception and Interstellar are very good at doing this.
Master and Commander - British Naval epic displaying brotherhood at its finest. Best sound production of any film ever and a true time machine taking you back in time. The set design and attention to detail are phenomenal.
Primer - A small independent film that really does a great job of playing with the idea of time travel.
Moon - The first film by David Bowie son, Duncan Jones, and of all things its about a lone astronaut, played by the impeccable Sam Rockwell.
I was raised on the classics: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Doors. Later I enjoyed early to mid-career U2 ending at POP, as well as Radiohead from KID A to In Rainbows. All along the way I've adored everything by Beethoven and minimalist composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich.
My current favorite Album that I have been listening to nonstop since last November is The War on Drugs' A Deeper Understanding
Lately I've been more interested in albums that have a certain kind of true high fidelity to their production value. By this I mean the sonic landscape to the actual recording, when played through a high end 2.1 stereo with a good subwoofer or through true hi-fi headphones the listener find themselves immersed in the phenomena of sound to the point that it becomes as much of a physical experience as the aural one. Some examples of albums that achieve this kind of sonic production value that I have been enjoying are:
Beck's Sea Change
Beck's Morning Phase
Big Thief's Capacity
Big Thief's Masterpiece
LCD Soundsystem's American Dream
Fleetwood Mac's Rumors
Father John Misty's I love you, Honeybear
Feist's Let it Die
Ray LaMontagne's Trouble
Ray LaMontagne's Till The Sun Turns Black
Ray LaMontagne's Ouroboros particularly Part Two
Hope you can find some of those links and references useful.
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